The Congress of Oz

A Satire

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Dorothy Democrat awoke. “What is this strange place I have suddenly landed? I don’t think we are in the state of Kindness anymore.”

There was a voice beside her. “You have landed in the congress of Oz. A strange and wondrous place where the diminutive democrats have become the greatest number in the land.”

“And who are you?”

“I am Nancy, the newly appointed good speaker of the house of congress.”

“But how did I get here?” asked Dorothy.

“There was a great and powerful wave that you rode. You looked so majestic coming here. Mind you, the wave really petered out by the time you arrived, so it was more of ripple by then. But still majestic.”

Dorothy looked around. She saw the small withered and diminishing feet of a small man running away.

“Who was that?”

“That was the wicked republican speaker of Wisconsin. It looked like your wave was going to come crashing down on him, so he decided to bug out before you got here.”

“You know so much.” A happy strawman came up to her.

“Who are you?” asked Dorothy.

“I am just a Scarecrow. I don’t have much in the way of brains.”

“That’s so sad. I will put you in charge of the democrats’ campaign.”

Another, man came up to her. “We are so glad you are here. I am so inflexible. My body is made of tin. I can’t change and just keeping doing the same thing again and again.”

“Good,” said Dorothy. We shall put you in charge of strategic planning for the campaign.”

A loud gruff man came up to her. “Listen here. I can take you on. Just because you are new here, you can’t tell us what to do.”

Dorothy figuratively smacked the imprudent man’s nose. He recoiled. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I’ll be polite.”

“Good. You can be in charge of the tougher media campaign.

“Well, I didn’t ask to come here,” said Dorothy. Well, maybe I did. But we will have to work together. Who is in charge here? Who can give us directions?”

“Just follow the yellow bricks of gold road,” said the small voice inside her head. “There you will find the greatest wizard of all who can guide you further.”

Dorothy and her companions followed the road to the mighty Soaring Soros Skyscraper.

“We must see the Wizard,” said Dorothy. “Only he can guide us further.”

The Wizard’s servants admitted her rag tag group.

There was a voice behind the green curtain of money. She could not tell what he was, but he sounded authoritative and he had this green curtain of money. “What do you want?” said the voice

“We want to go back to the state Kindness.”

“I can grant your greatest wish,” said the voice.

“But, you must bring the hair of the wicked warlock of the west wing of the White House.”

“But, to do that, we would have to impeach the warlock! How would that be possible?”

“You will have to find a way.”

They left, but the warlock learned of their plans. And he sent his awful army of mindless flying senate monkeys to impede her.

The senate monkeys had their grand leader. The flying monkey king. MiMc had cast out many a poor immigrant.

The flying monkey king grabbed Dorothy and took her to the warlock.

The wicked warlock of the west wing of the White House descended from his Air Force One rotary broom flying contraption. He had mastered the science of flight, but not the cause of global warming. His hair, oblivious to the winds, stood in a death embrace with his skull.

“You ain’t got much time,” he bellowed to everyone and no one. “I know the best spells. And everything wrong with the country is your fault. Everything good about this country is only because of me.”

“But I just got here.”

“That just don’t matter. Give me back what you stole using fake news and fraudulent voters. Give me back the ruby hall of congress.”

“But I can’t. The people gave congress to the democrats.”

Her friends looked at the locked down compound guarded by the senate monkeys.

“How can we get her back?”

“We can draw him out. Begin the congressional investigation hearings. He will have no choice.

In the blink of $100 million dollars, Dorothy’s friends produced the report detailing emoluments and severe tax avoidance. Not strictly illegal, but what can you get for $100 million these days.

They got the report to Dorothy, who was locked away in the White House in a series of hopeless meetings in an attempt to create by-partisan arrangements and a way to get out of this gridlock.

The warlock angrily approached her.

“I am full of anger. Time’s up. Give me back congress. Or you will greatly suffer in many suffering greatly ways. And your little democrat states too.”

Dorothy grabbed the report and threw it at him. The report grazed the warlock’s hair, and they all ended up in federal court. Including the hair.

The court declared a breach of many federal laws that the warlock had not had a chance to amend in his favor.

“Oh no,” cried the warlock. “I am melting from memory! I am melting.”

After a moment, there appeared to be only a stain on the country’s history. Soon to be mopped up.

Dorothy grabbed the impeachment proceedings and made her way back to the Wizard and Nancy.

“The wicked warlock of the west wing of the White House is no more!”

The Wizard and Nancy were pleased and said that Dorothy could go back and take over the White House whenever she wanted.

Dorothy cried, “There’s no place like the White House. There’s no place like the White House. There’s no place like the White House.” 

MASKING THE COVIDA LOCO

A SATIRE

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Somewhere deep in the policy administration department for the present administration.

“Mr. Jones, sir! You have to read this! The CDC mandated that everyone needs to start wearing underwear to combat this disease!”

Mac ‘The Truck’ Jones took the memo from his eager assistant Jimmy Deere. As legislative policy manager, Mac filtered all relevant and irrelevant material before things spun out of control.

“I don’t believe the Centre for Disease Control would say something like that,” said Mac throwing the memo aside.  “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Not the Disease Centre. The Caparison Decision Centre. They decide what accoutrements make the scene for year. You know, what shoe styles are in or out.”

Mac waived this hand dismissively. “Never heard of them.”

“The Caparison Decision Centre resemble the Illuminati,” said Jimmy. “They had a major tragic setback in the Victorian era when they advocated for those bottle green dresses. The manufacturers used arsenic to achieve that colour. So they always stay under the radar. But now the president already tweeted out how ridiculous the CDC was, maybe thinking that it the Disease Centre that issued the statement.”

Mac sat back heavily in his chair. “Oh man. Did he add anything else?”

Jimmy took a deep breath. “Yes, the president added that if people did not want to wear underwear, well that’s their decision. It’s a free country when it comes to underwear decision making. He later added that if the founders of the country did not wear underwear, then that’s the way it should be.”

Mac then sat his head heavily in his hands. “I don’t suppose you checked to see what there might be on presidential underwear customs?”

Jimmy seemed to blush every so slightly. “Yes, it seems that George Washington didn’t wear any underwear. A long shirt seemed to do the trick. And I checked with the History Museum, and it seemed that Martha Washington cast aside the corset during the Virginia Summers and just wore loose fitting gowns. So it seems that freedom, in all shapes and sizes, goes right back to the beginning.”

Mac looked up. He feared that this underwear issue could tear the country apart. “What’s the take on the social media?”

Jimmy pulled out a file. “Well, the issue is divided already along political lines. A quick polling found that half the respondents suggested that all people should be wearing underwear. Those would be the democrats. While the true Americans, republicans, said that people should be free to make their own choice.  I’m a bit concerned about a few Facebook sites that suddenly appeared on both sides of the issue. Intel suggests that these are already Russian bots, trying to sow some more controversy.”

Mac now looked concerned. “What makes you so sure?”

“Well, the sites didn’t use the word underwear. The translation was a bit off. Instead, the Russian sites use the term ‘Loincloth’.”

“Are people commenting on these sites?”

“Yes, for sure. Some people wrote that their nether regions need to breathe more, and no government agency is going to tell them what to do. In fact, real Americans need to go nude more often.”

“The other bot site is all for wearing loincloths. People on that site wrote that wearing underwear is not enough. People need to show their patriotism and show their underwear.”

Mac did not like where this was going. “What are they suggesting?”

“Supporters suggest that people should be wearing their underwear on the outside, to show their support. For the notion, not their own personal private support.”

Mac tried to look a bit hopeful. “What are the moral groups saying? They must be above this sort of thing.”

“Not too much. They are still hung up on the loincloth description. This seems to mean different things to different groups. But whatever their various positions will eventually be, we can expect them to be pretty unwavering after that.”

“So, what else are the sites saying?”

“As we have seen in the past, the Russian sites seem to take opposite sides of the issue. One side says that the disease does not even exist since you can’t see it. You can’t see the moon-landing site, so why should this virus be any different? Also they suggest that wearing underwear or loincloths causes more problems than the disease, not admitting the disease even exists. And if you have to wear clothing or an apron to keep hot grease spatter hitting you, then you are doing it wrong! The frying that is.”

Mac slapped the table with his hand. “Some southern states are not going to like being told that that they have been deep-frying the wrong way all these years. It’s the right of every American to cause a grease fire whenever they want!”

“Part of the problem seems to be the shifting expert advice,” said Jimmy. “At the beginning people were told it wasn’t necessary to wear underwear since chances are, they would be wearing it wrong in the first place, or buying the wrong type. There’s that entire cotton/synthetic debate going on all the time.  Even if you have the perfect underwear, this can give you a false sense of security.

Mac started to roll his eyes. As if this country did not have enough problems. “I suppose there will be some demonstrations soon?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. Some right wing groups are suggesting parades in the nude. With legally registered weapons. Anyone with a concealed weapons permit will simply have to make do. The left wing groups seem to want to expand this to wearing all types of underwear from all cultures and nationalities outside of their clothing. The Russian bots are suggesting the hottest times of the day in the hottest spots of the country. There are going to countless episodes of heatstroke.”

“Ok, we have some work to do Jimmy. Is there anything else I need to know?”

Jimmy shook head and folded up the second report on a separate faction. The bra controversy could wait until tomorrow.

NAFTA ECONOMIC BRIEFING FOR THE PRESIDENT GOES PLOP

A Satire

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The Policy Loyal On the President (“PLOP”) wrote the president’s economic briefing on NAFTA Re-re-negotiations.

These negotiations shall follow the standard art of the deal format by starting crazy and working from that point onwards.

In addressing the President’s request to make the briefing notes shorter and less ‘sad’, we are removing the enticement of the President’s name from each paragraph and instead adding his name as a watermark on the entire page to make all of the content more enticing.

We are also incorporating the President’s recommendation to rename the Agreement along the lines of his more concise economic analysis and will in the future call the agreement NAFSTA. The North America Free ‘Stupid Trade’ Agreement.

In order to reduce the government deficit, we are recommending reversing the trade deficit. There is little connection between the two items, but this allows the President to say that this is what he has been told even though he has already said it

Although the previous administration found NAFSTA to be quite beneficial, we have found that different segments of the population have benefited and others have suffered. The US produces more goods than ever before and job loss has been chocked up to greater automation. To address the President’s main constituent’s employment demands, we are recommending that US industry avoid automation and that more coal be dug out manually. The President would soon be found correct in that people involved in manual coal mining will soon ‘get tired of winning’ like this every day.

Providing this coal to Mexico, who does not need it, and Canada, who does not want it, would also go a long way to managing the trade deficit. Canada can fulfill its fake climate change goals by not actually burning the coal and instead simply storing the coal in its many lakes. We are providing research that US coal can act as activated charcoal and actually make the water cleaner than it is right now. The US could provide this activated charcoal instead of providing money for funding the great lakes cleanup.

As part of reducing the US trade and budgetary deficit, Mexico has agreed to pay for the border wall and as a demonstration of the President’s winning negotiation tactics, Mexico has also agreed to construct the wall within their own country. While the construction of the wall may appear to some critics as if the US has shipped building materials down to Mexico and the population appears to be building homes, we have developed an executive order that amends the Mexican word “Casa” into the American term “Border Wall”. PLOP sees this as a major win for both sides of the border.

The main NAFSTA goal shall be to remove the objective and unbiased NAFSTA tribunals. Their balanced approach has not been in the USA’s best interest. We recommend mandating the ‘Trump Tribunal’ instead of the US court system. This allows the government to rebrand the existing Trump University material into something we can provide to Mexico and Canada as an alternative. As the President has previously pointed out, the existing judicial system might exercise ‘unprecedented overreach’ and continue finding in favor of the other countries.

The NAFSTA tribunals have been finding in favor of the Canadian Softwood industry. In following the President’s recommendation that US citizens use good old US hardwood instead, PLOP anticipates that this will likely increase home construction costs by several billion dollars. However, the President has a good point that this switchover shall increase employment in the production of more saw blades. For actual increased numbers of those employed in saw blade manufacturing, we anticipate 12.

PLOP also recommends that both Canada and Mexico open up their government tendering contracts to US industry. This strategy ties directly in with the ‘buy American’ strategy. Concurrently, we recommend closing any US government tendering by foreign industries. This again ties neatly with the ‘buy American’ policy along with the start crazy and stay there negotiation strategy.

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The President has previously blasted Canada’s poultry and diary supply management. Reducing Canadian Tariffs would allow greater access by American farmers and would alleviate their deteriorating economic situation. However PLOP was concerned that this may reduce American poultry supply and potentially increase the price of the President’s favorite meal, fried chicken. We are following the President’s direction and removing the requirement of Canada abandoning their supply management. US fried chicken will remain great, low cost and tasty.

PLOP

Adventures in moving.

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Dante Inferno describes nine levels of hell. Moving reveals a tenth.

The concept seemed simple enough. Our adult children bought a house in Victoria. My wife and I hope to move in with them eventually and share costs. What better way to create a type of beachhead than to ship some of our excess furniture. And what better way for a daughter-in-law to benefit from the helpful advice of an in-house mother-in-law?

My plan involved renting a truck and hiring others to load it. This seemed cost effective except for the three days of travel, hotels, gas, and food. Crossing over the Rockies during the fall and early winter in an unknown truck seemed imprudent. Dropping the truck and flying back home seemed really imprudent. At least the level of in-flight service for the plane and three days alone in a truck would likely be comparable.

The next best option involved those transportable containers. So, I opened a container company account. Drop off, load up, and take away. What could be easier? I rented a couple of containers for 30 days. More than enough time. But as Stephen Hawking clearly proved, time speeds up when you enter the space-time continuum of a potential additional rental fee.

The company quickly delivered two containers. They seemed deceptively small, but the advertised videos showed how much stuff you could pull out of one of these things. Sort of like a clown car.

Next day, a couple of burly gentlemen picked up, packed up and bundled up all of the furniture.  I did wonder what clowns say to one another as they pack themselves into that car. I assume there is quite a bit of discussion of what everyone ate beforehand. The container company picks up the containers and they merrily make their way to the coast. Twenty-seven days remain on the rental.

Two weeks later the containers land in Victoria. The unpacking crew call to confirm when they intend to pick up the containers. The container company, a close relative, but still separate, also calls to confirm when I intend ‘to access the containers’. I try to clarify that yes, they will be accessed, just not by me. This becomes the first sign that there is a separation between the plan and the implementation.

The container company calls our son, and tells him that the unloading company had been ‘delisted’. And we would have to cancel. We enter the first level of hell. Thirteen days left on the rental.

Renting containers resembles buying flight cancellation insurance on-line. Both take perhaps five minutes and are deceptively easy to use. Heaven help you when you have to make a claim under the insurance. The two times I made insurance claims it took three months and several days of mailing in paper forms. You note the word mailing and paper. Even faxing did not appear as an option. The 1970’s retain a firm hold on filing for insurance claims.

I navigate the tortured confines of the container customer on-line system, cancel the job, and obtain a ‘store credit’. I receive a “VIP” credit number, separate from my contract number, separate from my container contract number. Numbers abound. Next hell level. Twelve days on the rental.

Two days later, I am BBQing and the phone rings while the pork cutlet catches fire. I let it burn for a bit since my father-in-law prefers it that way. The mover asks why I cancelled and I explain how he became delisted. The pork continues to burn away merrily. The mover will try to gain access to the containers still. The burning pork personifies my patience with this situation. Hell level uncertain.

The next day the container company denies the mover access once again. The mover gives me the name of the warehouse manager. I leave a few messages, but never here back from him. Abandon all hope ye who enter here. Ten days remain.

I futilely try to use their website to arrange delivery and unloading of the containers.  I get helpful return emails about using the website and using the credit. I send slightly perturbed but mostly desperate emails to the container company and to the moving company. I try to arrange delivery that week, the week following, and the week following that. I leap a few months into the future. No availability. I jump-frog several levels of hell. Eight days left on the rental.

I seek out a real person at the moving company but listening to the array of options can wear you down.  When I do find one she nicely explains to me that someone in a Ford 250 flatbed picked up the containers. My son confirms that no containers arrived. Thoughts of insurance proofs of loss dance through my head.

The company realizes their mistake. The warehouse does still have the containers, but the moving company does not move them, only loads and unloads them. She apologizes, and sends me over to the manager. I hear the same recording of options. A male answers, and I explain my sordid tale once again. This time he apologizes and says that they dropped the ball. I hear music this time, but it sounds more like the Twilight Zone theme.

He makes a note to file and gives me the name of another person that holds the containers. Although being held hostage also fits. This time a woman answers. She can help get the containers to the house. At a nominal cost. I am getting closer. I seized upon the following day opening. Six days remain.

Later that night, a Vancouver woman calls, apologizes more, and says the delivery will be free. I thank her profusely and make light of the number of emails, number of people called, and the number of levels of hell I travelled while listening to the various twilight zone holding messages.

Later that same night, the container company calls, and asks why I had not returned the equipment at noon. I simply ask what equipment. Perhaps she did not realize that she was holding my containers hostage and she could have extracted whatever concessions she wanted. She apologizes and corrects the file.

The next day the containers arrive. The steep driveway compels the driver to leave the containers on the street. However, one box remains bolted down. Apparently, they deliver free of charge, but if you want access, well that is another cost. Clever. Very Clever.

Another trip to have the container company remove the bolts. For free. And the real fateful day arrives. Many levels of hell traversed. Five days remain.

The movers arrive the following day and distribute the furniture throughout the house. Now, we just need to get the containers off the street before the persnickety neighbourhood association catches sight of them. Limbo welcomes us. Four days.

The next morning the company picks up the containers with three days left over and only six months taken off my lifespan.

Later on, I look around nervously around our house and decide what to do with the rest of our belongings. I open another corporate account. Kijiji. Look for the springtime ad.

Retirement Untethered: Practice

hand washing
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I had a good chance to see what retirement might look like when we were sequestered for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 requires serious action. But, admittedly, there are the occasional lighter aspects.

After a British Columbia board meeting, my wife and I decided to fly over to Phoenix to see some friends just for a few days. Of course, after we arrived then the talk about shutting the border came up, so he headed home. I’ve always used the hand sanitizers at airports, but now they seem to be set at jumbo ejection discharge. I struggled to wipe it all over my hands. With all the foam still covering my palms and back of my hands, I felt I couldn’t walk away from the hand station since I am sure everyone would be askance as  to whether foaming at the cuticles was a new symptom. I resorted to cleaning up to my elbows.

 

 

Koi Herpesvirus

school of koi fish on water
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Lake Winnipeg had a recent carp die off. They are investigating, but something similar happened to adjacent Lake Manitoba back in 2008. It may be another break out of koi Herpesvirus disease, which I didn’t know was a real thing until just recently. The virus only infects carp, including koi and goldfish.

I had to bury three giant sized carp that washed up on the lake front. I had never seen carp that size.

Hundreds more washed up on the nearby beach. Dozens of volunteers with rakes and trucks helped clean up the carnage.

I told my daughter that there may have been some repetitive strain injuries.

Tunnel Carp Syndrome.

 

#humor #inspiration

Seasonal Affective Disorder

solar-flare-sun-eruption-energy-39561Winter brings the onset of seasonal affective disorder. Where does one go for a sunny day in Canada? Calgary takes the spot as a major centre with the most sunny days. Considering the oil market, they appear to need it. Vancouver with 154 rain days ranks just behind Prince Rupert as the cloudiest part of Canada. But at least when you live in Vancouver, at least you are in Vancouver.

Those of us in other parts of the country must turn to the Amazon. Not the river, the shopping platform. Here you can purchase your own light therapy box. Light therapy impacts brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep and eases SAD symptoms.

We have the Northern Light Technologies 10,000 lux desk light. Minimal UV radiation since you don’t want to fix one problem and cause an even greater melanoma problem.

Ignore the pictures showing people sitting in a chair enjoying a coffee. Read the brochure, but generally the light box should be within 18 inches of your face for maximum effectiveness. The exact distance that your mother always warned you about when you watched TV.

Perhaps 15 minutes a day in the morning ought to do it. Just keep a consistent schedule and do all those other things that your mother told you to do. Get outside and play.

 

#sad #motivation

The Shape of Water Research

dive-diver-eyes-37545

 

Imagine yourself immersed in a snow globe. Not a happy winter scene, but rather a black-flaked London in the 1800s during the soot-filled industrial revolution. This occurs when you scuba dive and settle into the bottom of a highly productive lake.

 

Water fascinates me. Perhaps not so much its composition, but what it can hold, foretell and create. Water holds an almost mythological attraction for Canadians. What lies beneath the waters surface provides the greatest research opportunity. And potential for misadventure.

 

The desire to explore beneath the water’s surface led to my obtaining a scuba diving certificate. Carrying a thin walled aluminum tank containing 3000 psi of compressed air provides great opportunity for hijinks. I took most of my lessons at West Hawk Lake where a meteor impact created the deepest lake in Manitoba. Within its 377 foot depth, one can find old style beer bottles, cans and other bits of litter. Visualize diving in a large well.

 

 

I majored in marine biology at the University of Victoria and spent five field seasons working with the Freshwater Institute located on the University of Manitoba Campus. My favorite season involved diving in Ontario’s Experimental Lakes Area. These people at the ELA did the initial work on impact of phosphorous on algae growth. These people also pointed out the irony of my having a degree in Marine Biology and my not being able to get any further from any coast line.

 

The ELA scientists wanted to track the phosphorous cycle in a natural environment. As team diver, I arranged for the project implementation. My task involved inserting a number of plastic bottom sample collectors into the sediment of this poor lake subtly numbered 227. Probably one of the more researched lakes in Canada based on size. This meant there could all types of research projects hidden away in the murky depths of the lake.

 

Breaking all safety protocols, I dove alone while one of the research scientists in the aluminum Lund above me watched my progress. All of the added nutrients increased the lake’s productivity and reduced visibility to about 2 feet. I swam to the bottom of this 35 foot deep lake and settled into the flocculent. Normally, when you get to the bottom of a lake, you stop there. But in this lake, I manage to sink another half foot into the muck. Technically flocculent muck.

 

I experience not a serene surrendering to the muck, but a sense of mild panic as I sink even further. Any movement raises more flocculent and reduces visibility. Using a flashlight becomes pointless as the light merely reflects back on all of the floating material in front of my face mask.

 

Regardless, I press on and press a plastic sampler into the muck. A string and float attached to the sampler allows us to collect it by boat later. Unfortunately, all of the samplers come with a 34 foot 6 inch string. Just ever so short of the 35 feet I needed. This prevents me from inserting the sampler, so the boat followed the coke bottle float to where I found 34 foot 6 inch deep water. Eventually, I plunge all of the samplers into the sediment.

 

Earlier, the science team arranged for delivery of a substantial amount of radioactive phosphorous. Not surprisingly, Canadian customs did not care for this small box marked RADIOACTIVE arriving at their centre. Every known warning covered the triangle shaped loaf of bread sized box. Everything else seemed superfluous. They had me at radioactive.

 

When the little box of radioactivity finally arrives, the head scientist dons his hazmat suit. Not something from Chernobyl or even the Andromeda Strain, but rather sheets of clear plastic held together with duct tape. He intends to break the glass vial containing the radioactive phosphorus into a plastic tub with a clever mechanism at the end of a long pipe. This clever mechanism, too clever by far, does not work and he resorts to using the rod to smash the vial in the tub along with some of the lake water. He drives around the lake while a pump sprays the liquid along the surface. Wave and wind action will do the balance of distribution.

 

The other research scientist and I intend to shield ourselves in the lead lined room. Of course, if intentions were horses, we would all gallop away. Instead, we both cower behind a boulder. Mostly Canadian shield granite. Little way in lead content, I suspect. We watch the distribution process since no horses appear to cart us away.

 

By the next day, no mutant crayfish appear. My next task involves retrieving water samples from the center of the lake. Our little Lund rests on the shore. The funny thing about this nutrient filled lake would be the amount of algae attached to the logs acting as a submerged dock. Stepping on the dock, I immediately slip and fall into the water. Only one leg. Mid thigh, thank you very much. None of my three children express any mutant superpowers. Except in their ability to boomerang home.

 

The team remains calm. They calmly express my need to sprint to the nearest non-radioactive lake and wash off. Any algae there would be happy to absorb any excess phosphorous. Even radioactive phosphorous. I carry out this additional task with a bit more zeal and urgency and swish around in the nearby lake.

 

Ultimately, the experiment provides greater insight into the phosphorous cycle. Canada’s lake form part of our heritage, so we should be doing all that we can to protect them.  Although research scientists appear to be lab-coated people in spectacles, most of them have extensive field experience collecting data. My data collection experience taught me I would make an excellent lawyer protecting Canada’s heritage from the safety of the shore.

 

 

Gary Goodwin

2042323916

Garywgoodwin@gmail.com